• Multi-year Budgets and Provincial Uncertainty

    I recently had the opportunity to speak with London Free Press columnist Chip Martin about the city’s next multi-year budget cycle.

    Already the Ford Government in Ontario has downloaded or cut services that will add at least $4 million to the city’s budget costs. Staff have already told council just to stay on track next year we need to raise property taxes another 2.7%.  And of course we have a federal election looming this year that could result in more changes to affordability for Londoners. That concerns me a great deal. Seniors on CPP and OAS benefits aren’t able to keep pace with those kind of increases and stay in their homes. The rising costs of groceries, hydro bills, and everything else is making it harder and harder for people to make ends meet, and property taxes are the LEAST FAIR form of taxes possible.

    People should make no mistake, decisions of senior levels of government have profound financial impacts on municipal governance. Continue Reading

  • Time to Say No to a Bridge to Nowhere

    The 2014-2018 Council (including the former Ward 2 Councillor), set aside $5 million to potentially fund the “Ribbon of the Thames” portion of the “Back to the River” project.

    What has become known as the “bridge to nowhere”, a suspended lookout bridge and river facing amphitheater space, has already ballooned in cost from $2 million to $7 million, with additional costs for shoreline work, excavation, and flood mitigation measures coming in at another $3-4 million.

    Staff pegs the cost of the “Ribbon of the Thames” at a minimum of $12.8 million dollars, with only $2 million in private donations from the London Community Foundation, leaving the project with at least a $5 million funding gap even if we spend all $5 million of the public dollars set aside.

    And that’s without spending a penny on the removal of the decommissioned Springbank Bank that has gates and hydraulic systems currently sitting at the bottom of the river. Continue Reading

  • An Inside Look at Construction of the East London Community Centre

    Opening in the fall of 2019, even if it might not appear so from the roadside, construction of the East London Community Centre is moving along well.

    Continue Reading

  • The BRT Vote and Better Transit, What Does It All Mean?

    After almost 4 years of the Matt Brown led council insisting that their BRT plan absolutely had to be an all or nothing decision, staff clearly indicated to the new council that not only could the BRT plan be broken up into pieces and still be viable, but that other options besides the old BRT plan were available which could qualify for provincial and federal funding.

    A list of 19 projects came to council to decide which ones to submit for federal and provincial funding approval. These included; 5 component pieces of the old BRT plan, an intelligent traffic signal management system, bus stop amenities including 60 new bus shelters, the purchase of more buses, a portion of the Adelaide St. underpass design, an intersection improvement project for Wharncliffe & Oxford, Thames Valley Parkway connections, pedestrian connections to the transit network, new sidewalks, and three different cycling proposals along with a couple of others.

    What changed from the old BRT plan? Continue Reading

  • Listening to Londoners Frustrations on Snow Removal

    From the London Free Press:

    Coun. Shawn Lewis spent much of his long weekend listening to Londoners voicing frustrations about city hall’s snow-removal service.

    The rookie Ward 2 councillor says he received a flood of complaints from his constituents and residents of other wards after a weekend snowfall blanketed streets and sidewalks that were already covered in ice.

    “I was actually hearing from people from wards all across the city,” Lewis said Tuesday.

    “Pretty much everything I heard this week from constituents was about how bad the roads were. I had people tweeting me about it, I had Facebook messages, phone calls, emails, the whole gambit.”

    Making snow removal one of his priorities, Lewis last month suggested city hall should lower its minimum threshold for sending plows into the streets…

    Read the full story at:

    Snow-removal complaints piled up over wintry long weekend: Politician

  • Making a Responsible Budget Decision

    In the 2019 Budget deliberations an item of contention arose around removing $521,000 from the anticipated budget costs that was earmarked last year for a provincially legislated minimum wage hike. With the change in provincial government, that requirement was removed. It was the staff recommendation that we not proceed with a wage increase and remove that earmarked amount from the budget.

    Advocates have argued that “it was in the budget already, you shouldn’t remove it”. But of course things that were not anticipated had to be added to the operating budget, including additional funding for ambulance services to tackle growing response times ($590,000), cycle network maintenance ($408,000, required to meet new provincial standards), mental health funding for police officers ($161,000) and restoring seniors bus tickets ($285,000) transit access at a more affordable rate. In total, over $1.4 million in operating costs not planned for were added.

    The result, the increase this year is 2.7%. In comparison a senior in our community living on Canada Pension Plan benefits will receive only a 1.5% increase.

    Making budget choices is never easy. And whether in a council seat, or as resident of the city, budget decisions need to balance care and cost, and also need to be considered in context and in impact, not ideology. Continue Reading

  • Time for WiFi in City Owned Recreation Facilities

    Many of our city owned recreational facilities already have internet connectivity onsite for staff use. But public access to wifi is an increasingly important “quality of experience” factor for users of libraries, recreation centres, gyms, etc, for both regular users and visitors alike, and can also be a safety enhancement.

    Continue Reading

  • End of 2018 Update

    Today we say goodbye to 2018 and prepare to start a new year. There is no doubt the future holds both challenges and opportunities for our city, and I’m confident we are ready to face them! Please take a minute to read this Ward 2 update and let me know what your priorities for City Hall are in 2019 by clicking the link at the end that will take you to a short survey.

    Today also marks the end of my first month as your city councillor and it has been a busy time. The first thing any new council has to tackle is the appointment of councillors to standing committees, as well as the appointment of both councillors and citizens at large to the 25 boards and commissions our city has.

    In addition to being your Ward 2 Council representative I will be serving as a representative on: Continue Reading

  • Post Election Update

    First off, my sincerest thanks to the people of Ward 2 for placing their trust in me to represent them at City Hall for the next 4 years.  With 64% support, you’ve given me a strong mandate to work for you and fight for our neighbourhood.

    And, my deepest gratitude to all the amazing people who volunteered on my campaign. Continue Reading

  • Lewis & Morgan Unite Candidates for Better Snowplowing in London

     

    London: Getting plows on the streets and sidewalks sooner is key to improving snow removal for Londoners during the winter months say Ward 2 Candidate Shawn Lewis and Ward 7 Candidate Josh Morgan.

    “Improving snowplowing in London starts with plowing less snow, more often,” says Lewis. “Waiting until we have 10cm of snow on residential streets is why cars are getting stuck and driveways end up with snow mountains at the end of them when the plow finally does come by. Most people understand that main roads need to come first, but the streets where people live are being left too long. Especially when we have multiple days of snow falls, by the time the plows get to crescents and cul-de-sacs, people are driving on snow pack with ruts 6 inches deep or more. ” Continue Reading

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